New York

Glen Fogel, With Me . . . You (detail), 2011, still from a five-channel color video, 19 minutes 15 seconds.

Glen Fogel, With Me . . . You (detail), 2011, still from a five-channel color video, 19 minutes 15 seconds.

Glen Fogel

Participant Inc.

Glen Fogel, With Me . . . You (detail), 2011, still from a five-channel color video, 19 minutes 15 seconds.

The two painted reproductions of love letters that introduce Glen Fogel’s first solo show announce an exhibitionary poise and epistolary tack. Enlarged to six times their size (one is a diptych), the messages are both addressed to the artist, and, in their infatuated, unself-conscious zeal, strike a universal note of hormonal desperation. “You, both the ideal and the mortal, have taught me the meaning of Love and what it is to feel joy,” one declares, later mentioning someone named Lucas. The other, from Lucas, smolders, “I’m amazed sometimes by the fire in your eye when you talk about things you really believe in,” and so on.

This ardency picks up again, and is ironized, in an installation of five videos. Indulging the tropes of televisual schmaltz on an epic scale, each depicts a ring, three of them studded with diamonds, and is projected onto facing walls. The gems are shot through with bright light that flares gaudily in the lens as they revolve slowly on mirrored surfaces, the effect invoking a hypnagogic stint on the Home Shopping Network. Consequently, there is satisfaction to be had: The rotation is mesmeric, and, in its scale and 360-degree immersiveness, feels nearly amniotic.

Another letter, printed on the reverse side of the press release, gives the backstory. It is from the artist himself, addressed to FedEx’s claims department to give a “personal account” of a claim. We learn that the rings in the video are in fact wedding and engagement rings, and belong to his family in Denver. He borrowed them, brought them to New York for the shoot, and sent his mother’s back to her via FedEx; the FedEx package arrived, but the ring—presumably stolen—didn’t, and the family was crushed. (“The diamond in the ring belonged to my father’s mother, and was given to him to use for my mother’s engagement ring. My father clearly remembers the moment when his now deceased mother removed her earring with that diamond in it, and handed it to him.”) After one learns the clear, very real personal significance of these jewels, their kitschy presentation seems perverse, though it aligns with the painted letters—tokens of love and affection blown up large and shown in an embarrassing light. The tone becomes odder still, even unsettling, when one considers the real loss beneath it.

That loss is incorporated into the work. Every three minutes, the gallery’s fluorescent lights snap on and the projections go dark, evacuating the visual pleasure. But this is more than a game of fort/da rehearsing the absence of the purloined ring. With each switching-on of the lights, a solitary speaker emits an iPhone Tri-tone, and this audial bling has a pointed effect: It evokes the receipt of a text message, and, by extension, the fleetingness and immateriality of digital communication—which sits on a spectrum with the photocopied missive on the press release, the violated FedEx, and the type- and handwritten love letters and their painted reproductions. Indeed, in this treatise on desire and loss, Fogel proves that even the everlasting diamond—that most concretized emblem of affect—can only drift away in a mediated world.

Lloyd Wise